Vista: Definitely Not

by JL Beeken on 3-27-2007

I’ve been reading some more and widening my perspective on Vista. My computer has decided to behave more normally the last couple of days so maybe it’s not panic-time yet.

However, I figure, wherever possible in life, it’s a good idea to be informed and prepared instead of shocked. I’ve been in my database and photographs for a long time and just pick up bits and pieces of other things around the edges. If that’s you, too, here’s more info on OS choices.

I would say that generally people are not too keen on Vista. Some people are losing their minds with driver incompatibilities and other things that are only half ways put together. The new security system is so annoying the only sensible thing to do is turn it off. There goes the security system.

Buying a computer with Vista pre-installed is more successful than trying to upgrade to Vista on an old system. The changes in the operating system are more toward the cosmetic, rather than the functional. Functional changes are the addition of features that already existed in the XP Multimedia Edition.

Most everything “new” has existed on Apple and Linux systems for years. (I quote…) It’s not particularly stable, although it claims to be Microsoft’s most stable so far. It sounds like a train-wreck.

The general consensus seems to be to stay with XP if it’s working for you. But be warned, XP will no longer be sold after next Spring. If you haven’t done so already and type “Vista reviews” into Google you’ll be supplied with (give-or-take) 1,000,000 of them to read, and some of it’s quite vitriolic, at best apathetic. If anyone has anything positive to say about Vista, perhaps you’d like to leave a comment here.

Mac is an interesting choice for my tiny apartment as all the hardware of a desktop is built into the monitor instead of having a separate tower and speakers. Apparently hard to service yourself, (present model) but otherwise superbly convenient for this place. On the OS side, there’s a new one due out shortly called Leopard. The part I really like is that with the use of “Parallels” (an additional $80 charge) it’s possible to also run Windows on the same computer. I’m not ready to give that up yet, especially since it runs my beloved Legacy.

MacintoshI don’t know much about Macs. If I believe all the hype, its specialty is sound, photos, and movies – right up the alley for genealogists. On the other hand, it’s another new thing for me so I might back off and stick with a PC.

It’s also possible to run a non-proprietary Linux system on a Mac, instead of Mac OS X, as this leaves things more open, otherwise you’re locked into Mac’s operating system. For people who like to tinker, that might be the better choice.

I’ve been wanting a Linux system for a long time but figured it would take too much time that I can’t afford. A couple years ago I dabbled in Knoppix (booted from a CD) and was truly impressed but also overwhelmed with what a total switch would mean. Not true, actually, as there are Linux versions that are as easy to use as XP. With scads of compatible software.

A compatible genealogy database program is Gramps. Rick Eastman gave it high marks in his  reviews, and Mr. Eastman doesn’t say nice things unless he means it. There’s also a few other genealogy add-on programs available. But I figure on keeping XP (without IE7, needless to say), and just using Linux to learn on for awhile.

So it’s down to one of these options:

A Mac also running Windows XP
A dual-boot Linux/XP system on a PC

Mind you, I haven’t tried this yet, I’m just saying I can. And so can you. Since any Linux system will be much less demanding of hardware, I may just put XP on a lighter-weight system than Vista would require and use this old laptop for Ubuntu. Ubuntu is just one of many choices for a Linux system. XP on a present-day system (250 GB hard-drive with 1GB RAM) would be supersonic.

So, it is possible to avoid Vista altogether, and live merrily ever after. It just takes a little leap of faith and another decision.

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